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Freedom of Shadow: A Tribute to Terry Adkins

Adkins by Jamie Diamond/ University of Pennsylvania School of Design. Courtesy of the Estate of Terry Adkins and Salon 94, New York.

Saturday, September 20th, 6:00 PM

Poetry Foundation
61 West Superior Street 
Free Admission

Join the Poetry Foundation for a performance of Freedom of Shadow: A Tribute to Terry Adkins, an oratorio for solo voice and electronics by Douglas Kearney and Haitian-born experimental musician and sound artist Val Jeanty.

A reception follows the performance.



Performance Preview

Douglas Kearney and Val Jeanty perform "Blanche Bruce Does the Modernism" from the oratorio.

Douglas Kearney’s poems, notes, and drafts relating to Freedom of Shadow: A Tribute to Terry Adkins make up a portfolio in the September issue of Poetry magazine.

Terry Adkins

Born in 1953, Terry Adkins approached art making as a composer, demarcating moments for silence, sound, and rhythm. Known for his instruments including a variety of immense horns, Adkins frequently performed with his long-time band The Lone Wolf Recital Corps. Applying the improvisational and recycling nature of jazz to his exhibitions and sculptural series, he riffed on biographies as a creative framework. His work has recovered and honored such figures as Jimi Hendrix, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Ludwig van Beethoven, Jean Toomer, John Coltrane, John Brown, Sojourner Truth, and most recently George Washington Carver and Yves Klein. Terry Adkins presented solo museum exhibitions at The Whitney Museum of American Art (1995), Sculpture Center, New York (1997), Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia (1999), the Bronx-River Art Center (2005), and most recently at the Tang Museum, New York (2012). Adkins died in February 2014.

Douglas Kearney

Poet/performer/librettist Douglas Kearney’s second, full-length collection of poetry, The Black Automaton (Fence Books, 2009), was Catherine Wagner’s selection for the National Poetry Series. Red Hen Press published Kearney’s third collection, Patter, in March 2014. He has received fellowships at Cave Canem, Idyllwild, and others. His work has appeared in a number of journals, including PoetrynocturnesPleiadesCallaloo, Fence, LA Review of Books, The Iowa Review, and The Ninth Letter. His produced operas include SucktionMordake, and Crescent City. Raised in Altadena, CA, he lives with his family in California’s Santa Clarita Valley. He teaches at CalArts, where he received his MFA in Writing.

Val Jeanty

Val Jeanty is a Haitian electronic music composer, percussionist, and turntablist who evokes the musical esoteric realms of the creative subconscious. She incorporates her African, Hatian musical traditions into the present and beyond, combining acoustics with electronics and the archaic with the postmodern. Her Afroelectronica installations have been showcased at the Whitney Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and the Village Vanguard and internationally at SaalFelden Music Festival in Austria, Stanser Musiktage in Switzerland, Jazz à la Villette in France, and the Biennale Di Venezia Museum in Italy.


As a companion piece to the performance, Berlin-based schriftkunstler (writing artist) Drury Brennan takes over the gallery wall to compose ulteriori ombre (further shadows), a massive calligraphic reaction to Kearney’s original text.  This exhibition opens on September 18.

Exhibition & Performance Review

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